“Do not take any steps against the Ottomans in the future”, -said Uzun Hasan Bayandurid.
The fifteenth century is one of the significant periods in the history of Azerbaijan and neighboring countries of the East. It is impossible to describe and understand Aggoyunlu history outside of relations with Karagoyunlus (Baharly), the Chigatays (Timurids) and the Ottomans. In his “Kitabi-Diyarbakiriyya” Abu Bakr Tehrani wrote: “Another important factor in the history of Aggoyunlu was the relation of the Ottomans and the mamluks of Egypt”.
The Aggoyunlus are descendant of Bayandur clan of the Oghuz tribes. The founder of the Aggoyunlu principality, Kara Yuluk Osman Bey, declared himself an independent ruler in Diyarbakir in 1403. After the death of Kara Yuluk Osman Bey, because of the dynastic clashes the Aggoyunlu lost former power. Uzun Hasan, the grandson of Kara Yuluk Osman Bey, took over throne Diyarbakir in 1453 and ended the power struggles. A Venetian diplomat and ambassador Ambrogio Contarini to Uzun Hasan’s palace, writes about him that:
“Uzun Hasan eats and drinks wine a lot, and likes to serve his guests constantly. He is always observed by dancers and singers. They read and play at his command. In general, he is a cheerful, thin, tall, red-faced man and has Tatar features on his face.”
Uzun Hasan came to power dethroning his brother Jihangir Mirza. Uzun Hasan’s forces defeated Jihangir Mirza’s army and he took refuge in Jahanshah. This event was described by Abu Bakr Tihrani. Later on the Aggoyunlu and the Ottomans started rivalry over the Empire of Trebizon (Trabzon). As the first diplomatic attempt, Uzun Hasan sent his mother to the presence of Mehmet II the Conqueror, which makes him think that he is in a difficult situation. Uzun Hasan was caught unprepared this time. When Mehmet II attacked Trabzon, to neutralize Uzun Hasan, he took his mother Sara Khatun and her staff with him. On October 26, 1461, the siege of Trabzon ended in victory. The Aggoyunlu state had lost its traditional trade route through the Black Sea.
The Aggoyunlus were also in an enmity with the Karakoyunlus. Seeing the difficulty of the struggle in two fronts, Uzun Hasan had decided to make a peace with the Ottomans. In accordance to the Yassichemen treaty, a half of the Trabzon treasury was given to the Aggoyunlus, which was a result of Sara Hatun’s diplomacy.
In 1467, sultan Mehmet II promised to send Prince Bayazid to help the Karakoyunlu. Upon learning of the plan, Uzun Hasan suddenly appeared in front of Jahanshah of Qaraqoyunlu on the plain of Mush and defeated him. The remnants of the Qaraqoyunlu army were destroyed and Jahanshah Haqiqi was killed. In 1468, the Uzun Hasan defeated Hasanali, son of Jahanshah. Uzun Hasan sent Jahanshah’s head to his ally Timurid Abu Said and Hasanali’s head to Sultan Mehmet II.
It was necessary to strengthen the economy, reorganize the army and find strong allies. It should be noted that he had done some work in this direction before. First of all, Uzun Hasan was carrying out a number of reforms, which were reflected in his legislation. Later, this collection became known as “Laws of King Hasan”. In the sources there are not detailed information about his reformist activities. Although the text of his “Legislation” has not reached us, it is possible to judge the reforms on the basis of little information about the laws that the chroniclers called “King Hasan’s laws” or ” Dasturi-Hasan Bey”.
Uzun Hasan, aiming to control vast territories, began to wage wars against some countries of the East and negotiated peace with some European countries.
In 1468, the Timurid ruler Abu Said launched his march to Azerbaijan with a large army to support Karakoyunlu ruler Hasanali. Although Uzun Hasan offered peace because of the Timurids’ great power, Abu Said did not accept it. Uzun Hasan, creating alliance with Shirvanshahs, attacked and destroyed his camp in1469.
In 1471, Aggoyunlus signed a peace treaty with Venice Republic against the Ottoman state. According to their plan, in the spring of 1472, Uzun Hasan’s army had to attack the Ottomans. However, there were no Venetian ships to bring weapons and artillery for Aggoyunlu army, as it was promised. Venetians took advantage of the situation and held secret diplomatic negotiations to gain an advantage in trade with the Ottomans.
On August 1, 1473, Aggoyunlus faced the Ottomans in Malatya. In this battle, Uzun Hasan could defeat the Ottoman forces of Mehmet II. The Ottomans were routed to the left bank of the Euphrates. After the battle, the Ottoman sultan sent his officer to him to make a peace. However, Uzun Hasan did not accept the offer.
On August 11,1473, the Aggoyunlu cavalry overtook Mehmed II’s troops in the Uchagizli gorge between Erzincan and Erzurum. Although the Aggoyunlus had the upper hand in this battle called Otlugbeli, the situation changed when the Ottomans went to the plain janissaries and fired cannons. The battle ended with the victory of the Ottomans. Mehmed Neshri writes, the Aggoyunlus they had never seen such guns, so they were defeated in the Otlugbeli battle.
Unfortunately, the Aggoyunlu-Ottoman relations are determined by enmity. But that was enmity between the Turks and Muslims, the enmity between two brothers.
After Uzun Hasan’s reign, Agggoyunly’s central government gradually weakened and the last Aggoyunlu rulers Sultan Murad and Alwand Mirza signed the Abhar treaty in 1501, in accordance to their agreement, territories of the Aggoyunlu were devided between these two. Soon both of them were destroyed by the Safavids.
- Ebu Bakr Tehrani. Kitabi-Diyarbekiriyye. Ankara, 2014, 418 pages
- Yaqub Mahmudov. Relations of Azerbaijan with European states (the second half of the XV century). Baku, 2007, 116 pages
- Fatma Akkush. The relations of Aggoyunlu-Memluks. Ankara, 2005, 171 pages
- Shahin Farzaliyev. Azərbaycan XV-XVI əsrlərdə//Azerbaijan in XV-XVI centuries. Baku, 1983, 108 pages
- Necefli Tofik Humbet oglu – Qaraqoyunlu və Ağqoyunlu dövlətlərinin tarixi müasir türk tarixşünaslığında//History of Garagoyunlu and Aggoyunlu states in modern Turkish history. Bakı, Çaşıoğlu, 2000, 197 pages
Cover illustration: Political map in English of the Aq Qoyunlu Confederation the year of Uzun Hasan’s death, 1478